In an article published in the Jewish News, former Culture Secretary Rt. Hon. John Whittingdale MP spoke about his visit to Israel with CFI last month and praised the late Shimon Peres’ “extraordinary legacy”.
Mr Whittingdale wrote that “the news of Peres’ passing came halfway through our trip and was particularly poignant for me as we had had the privilege of meeting him on that first visit 23 years ago”.
He said: “Peres’ passing defined the trip as one of reflection and great meaning, one I will not forget. In life, he championed co-existence and sought peace tirelessly; in death, he united adversaries who put aside differences to remember a remarkable man”.
Looking back to his meeting with Mr Peres, he wrote: “I remember well his patience in explaining the complexities of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people and his optimism and determination that a peaceful solution could be found. His charisma and humanity were obvious and the warm eulogies of recent days emphasise the indelible mark this great leader left on many people across the world”.
He underlined: “Peres was a giant, playing a leading role in Israel’s defining moments. Everywhere we went during our visit we saw evidence of his lasting legacy, from high-tech start-ups to peaceful co-existence charities”.
The CFI delegation visited Save A Child’s Heart, which “embodies the former president’s desire to bring Israelis and Palestinians together”. Mr Whittingdale also mentioned a visit to the Israeli equity crowdfunding platform iAngels, which “epitomises the vibrant Start-up Nation launched by Peres, demonstrating Israel’s capability as a technological powerhouse”.
Mr Whittingdale wrote that in a visit to the Israeli town of Sderot on the Gaza border, “new housing developments show the resolve of Israelis who are not prepared to desert their homes in face of constant rocket attacks”.
The article continues: “On a visit to the West Bank, we also went to see Rawabi, a new town development for Palestinians and the brainchild of a remarkable man, Bashar al-Masri. He told us the Israeli politician who had given him most support to make it happen had been Peres”.
Writing about renewed hopes for the peace process, Mr Whittingdale wrote: “The presence of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas at Peres’ funeral and his warm greeting with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu cemented this, giving Israelis and Palestinians renewed hope for the resolution Peres so dearly wanted”.
He concluded: “My visit to Israel demonstrated his powerful legacy, and I, together with the people of Israel, mourn his passing”.
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